A Swift Current audience was the first group in Saskatchewan to receive a presentation regarding plans by Farmers of North America to construct a fertilizer plant in Western Canada
Approximately 35 people turned out to Wednesday's town hall style presentation on the FNA Fertilizer Limited Partnership. FNA is generating support behind an effort to build a $1 billion nitrogen fertilizer production facility capable of producing between 640,000 to one million metric tonnes of ammonia equivalent per year.
Bill Martin, Vice President of Grain Marketing and Transportation with Farmers of North America, highlighted that a farmer commitment is key to driving the project forward.
"Our priority in this is getting as much support as possible from as many farmers as possible," Martin said following his presentation in Swift Current yesterday.
"What's in it for them is they have an opportunity to participate in probably the most exciting ag venture in Western Canada in 50 years, that will have a dramatic impact on their operating costs by giving them the ability to reduce and more properly manage their fertilizer costs. But they will also be getting an opportunity to participate as shareholders in what we anticipate will be a quite profitable venture."
"What we see as the principal benefit is participating in the dividends. Where we see that as the best way for farmers to offset the cost of the fertilizer. So we are not anticipating going out with dramatic reductions in price in this project. There are market consideration was have to be cognizant of. So we just see that farmers can participate in the dividend stream of a profitable venture that they essentially control."
Swift Current's meeting was one of 39 meetings planned across the prairie provinces to raise seed capital among farmers to further develop the Project N concept which involves building a substantially farmer-owned nitrogen fertilizer plant in Western Canada. Seed capital units are $1,000 each, with individuals able to purchase a maximum of $10,000 or 10 units.
"Rather than a specific dollar amount, what we are looking for is individual farmers. We've set a target of 2,000 farmers to sign up," Martin said. "So what the final amount will be on the seed capital unit will be very much dependent on whether or not they sign up for one seed capital unit or 10 seed capital units."
Martin highlighted that in just under a week there have been just over 900 farmers sign up for the program and contribute seed capital money. They have also been gaining interest in the project since announcing a financial partnership with the Bank of Montreal, and FNA remains in negotiations with various operating partners to develop the plant.
During the month of October, FNA has scheduled a total of 23 Saskatchewan meetings, another nine in Alberta, plus seven more across Manitoba.
FNA has had extensive experience with helping producers battle the high costs of chemical inputs, with their efforts over the past decade focussing in part to reduce the cost of chemical inputs for farmers.
"The overall mandate of FNA is to improve farm profitability, and we really see ourselves as a business alliance between farmers. So what we try to do is go out on behalf of our members, and we have approximately 10,000 members across Canada. What we do is go out and negotiate the best prices that we can on a wide range of inputs that they use in their farming operation."
Martin highlighted in his presentation that the FNA had their most profound impact through their glyphosate program, which involved FNA importing glyphosate from off short suppliers and dramatically reducing the cost of glyphosate for farmers in Western Canada.
"We reckon that our impact in the market has saved farmers a minimum of $1 billion over a six year period."
Additional information on Project N, Farmers' Fertilizer Alliance, is available by visiting www.projectn.ca/about.